Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Ultra Buyer's Guide

At its "Far out" event in 2022, alongside the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple announced the Apple Watch Ultra. The Apple Watch Ultra is a whole new kind of smartwatch from Apple with a focus on withstanding extreme environments, a high level of durability, extended battery life, and additional features to aid activities like diving and exploration.

apple watch ultra snow
Both the Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra feature the S8 chip, an Always-On Retina display, Crash Detection, temperature sensing, IP6X dust resistance, and more, but there are significant differences between the two devices.

With as little as $50 between the 45mm stainless steel Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra, some prospective customers will be weighing up whether it is worth spending a little extra to get the all-new 49mm model. While there is a $400 difference between the 41mm aluminum Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra, the new high-end model offers a whole new set of features to address specific challenges, so it may even be worth it for some of these buyers.

Key Differences

Apple Watch Series 8 Apple Watch Ultra
Aluminum casing Aerospace-grade titanium casing
Curved design Lighter, corrosion resistant case with raised edges to protect the flat sapphire front crystal
Digital Crown with haptic feedback and side button Digital Crown with haptic feedback, side button, and customizable Action button
45mm or 41 mm case size (vertical) 49mm casing size (vertical)
Retina display Always-On Retina display
10.7mm thickness 14.4mm thickness
Weighs 32.0 grams to 51.5 grams Weighs 61.3 grams
Ion-X front glass (aluminum) or sapphire crystal (stainless steel) Sapphire crystal front glass
Curved display with refractive edge Flat display
904 sq mm (41mm) or 1,143 sq mm (45mm) display area 1164 sq mm display area
352 by 430 pixels (41mm) or 396 by 484 pixels (45mm) 410 by 502 pixels
Up to 1,000 nits brightness Up to 2,000 nits brightness
- Exclusive Wayfinder face with live compass and Night Mode for low-visibility conditions
Single speaker and microphone Dual speakers, three-microphone array with beamforming and wind noise migitation
GPS Precision dual-frequency GPS (L1 and L5)
- 86-decibel Siren to attract attention
Bluetooth 5.3 Bluetooth 5.3
Water resistant to 50m Water resistant to 100m
Swimproof Swimproof and recreational dive to 40m
- Tested to MIL-STD 810H
- EN13319 certification
- Water temperature sensor, depth gauge, and dive computer app
Up to 18-hour battery life Up to 36-hour battery life
Available in Midnight, Starlight, Silver, and PRODUCT(RED) (aluminum) or Silver, Graphite, or Gold (stainless steel) Natural titanium finish only
Starts at $399 (aluminum) and $699 (stainless steel) Priced at $799

The Apple Watch Ultra offers new capabilities to address the specific requirements of those who need their Apple Watch to provide assistance in challenging environments. If you need a more durable Apple Watch with features like a brighter display, louder speakers, a more reliable GPS, better water resistance, and more, the Apple Watch Ultra is undoubtedly the best choice.

The Apple Watch Ultra is also the largest and most feature-rich Apple Watch option available, not to mention that it offers the first true redesign of the device since its introduction in 2015. For technology enthusiasts, Apple Watch Ultra represents a way to get a whole new Apple Watch experience with the top specifications. Features like longer battery life and a larger, brighter display are also highly accessible, and will be beneficial to all users. As such, some customers may still be inclined to choose the Apple Watch Ultra over the Apple Watch Series 8, even if they do not need it for use in challenging environments.

As the largest Apple Watch model to date, the size of the Apple Watch Ultra will not be for everyone. If you already prefer the 41mm Apple Watch casing size, the Apple Watch Ultra may be far too large for you. If in doubt, it may be worth heading to an Apple Store and trying on the Apple Watch Ultra in person to get to grips with the size and determine if it is too big and bulky for you.

Similarly, the Apple Watch Ultra's look may not appeal to some buyers. If you prefer the stainless steel Apple Watch and are looking for a more fasion-focused smartwatch that pairs well with metal and leather bands, the more aggressive, rugged design of the Apple Watch Ultra may not be for you.

If the Apple Watch Ultra is out of your price range but you still want to use your Apple Watch in challenging environments, it is worth bearing in mind that the Series 8 still offers a durable design with a strong front crystal, water resistance, and many of the Apple Watch Ultra's software features like waypoint marking.

The Apple Watch Ultra has a lot to offer, especially for the subset of users who can take advantage of all of its capabilities, so it is certainly worth considering when purchasing a new model – but the Apple Watch Series 8 is still a compelling all-around option that comes in at a lower price point with a subtler design.

Related Forum: Apple Watch

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Top Rated Comments

colocolo Avatar
22 months ago
Not a big criticism, but I would appreciate if the articles that have popped up lately comparing two devices would list a table, where you can see the same feature side by side.
When you look at the article (at least in desktop mode), the same feature does not match the same row between both devices. It only gets worse as you scroll down the list, and becomes difficult to really compare, which is the purpose.





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Score: 61 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MrSegundus Avatar
22 months ago
I think I should buy that Apple Watch Ultra to use for my Starbucks runs while wearing my Patagonia or Arc'teryx hoodie since most who will buy it will use it exactly for that purpose.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ?️ Avatar
22 months ago
This Apple Watch Series 8 reminds me of Apple Watch Series 6/7 too much. Apple Watch Ultra has too much to offer for $50 of a price difference.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SteveJUAE Avatar
22 months ago


It’s slightly wider and taller than the 8 screen. I’m hoping the extra 14 pixels of width matter for things like using the keyboard for text, etc.
In this simple comparison (see swapped outlines orange on S8 and red on Ultra), seems negligible difference in actual visible area



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Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ?️ Avatar
22 months ago

Wow, just $50?
The price difference in the UK is £430.
Yes sir... So a little more expensive in the U.K.

USA Price $799.00



U.K. Price 849.00



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Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
fwmireault Avatar
22 months ago

Not a big criticism, but I would appreciate if the articles that have popped up lately comparing two devices would list a table, when you can see the same feature side by side.
When you look at the article (at least in desktop mode), the same feature does not match the same row between both devices. It only gets worse as you scroll down the list, and becomes difficult to really compare, which is the purpose.




I agree, a comparative table would be more useful here
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)